Archived Story

Graduation like ‘a changing of the guard’

Published 6:32pm Sunday, May 23, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

When Niles High School’s class of 2010 gather on the football field Thursday evening, May 27, the green turf will be glittering with blue and yellow gowns as it always does year after year.

Anticipation will be high — excitement even higher — and proud parents, brothers, sisters and friends will fill the bleachers and spill out into the lawn.

No matter how many ceremonies some families attend, each commencement usually feels unique unto its own — and this year will be no exception for many reasons.

It’s been a tough year for area students. As they leave the hallways they’ve been roaming for the past four years, some of their most beloved teachers are preparing to leave their classrooms not to return next year.

And their superintendent is preparing to hand over the district reigns to a new successor.
“The graduation time, these last two weeks for seniors — for the superintendent is just affirmation of the good work we’ve done,” Law said.

An estimated 200 Niles High School seniors will graduate next week, 103 of them will graduate accessorized with honor cords.

“You feel a whole lot of pride,” Law said.

Though he’s deferring all attention to the students, Law will likely feel more emotions than just pride this year.

The superintendent will end his decade long run under the title this year.

“This time of year will be the number one of things that I miss,” he said. “I know I”ll miss it.”

The last two months, he said, have been a “slow changing of the guard” between he and incoming superintendent Richard Weigel.

“It’s been a really great transition,” Law said.

But is it a clouded one?

With historic budget cuts, teacher layoffs and the recent, controversial decision to shut down Eastside Elementary School will a shadow be cast over the district as it celebrates a time-honored event for its seniors — and will the district superintendent feel a shadow cast over his exit?

“It’s not a cloud,” Law said. “The goal for me and the district,” is to have loose ends tied for Weigel to move forward.

That means a budget and a teachers contract. The budget has been proposed and submitted to the board of education. The contract remains unfinished.

Law hasn’t decided quite yet what his next step is following his retirement. With all the experience he’s had in education and his final commencement ceremony coming up — does he feel a little like he’s graduating himself?

“It does,” he said. “It will feel that way I am sure when I walk off the platform because I will never again stand up there.

“I’m not matriculating on to something else,” he said.

As are around 200 Niles High School students who have felt the nervousness on those first few days as freshman, built friendships and senses of self within the high school’s halls and will leave the field armed with diplomas and plenty of opportunities.

Gearing up for graduation …

Niles High School will celebrate commencement of its class of 2010 on Thursday, May 27 at 7 p.m. An honors ceremony took place Sunday, May 23 and Baccalaureate will be held Wednesday May 26.

Seniors will practice for commencement Thursday morning followed by a luncheon provided by Project Graduation before returning to the school Thursday evening. Tickets to graduation area available exclusively through seniors who will be provided with tickets on that day.

Commencement speakers include:

Shannon McKeel — Welcome
Kylie Carpenter (valedictorian)
Meg Hein
Bridgette Stone
Chelsea Thompson — Gift presentation
Brittney Buti – Tassel

Brandywine High School will celebrate its commencement ceremony Sunday, June 6 at 2 p.m. in the Middle/High School gymnasium. An estimated 91 students are expected to receive their diplomas including the top 11 students graduating with honors.

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